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Asimov's SF Magazine, June 2006


James Patrick Kelly
"The Leila Torn Show"

© IASFM, Jun 2006
--/ cool media sf story
--/ idea award: sentient TV shows

Hmm... the future of show-business is "TV shows with personalities of their own", who bargain with actors and higher powers for better plot lines and ratings - I must admit it is an entirely possible development, as the computer simulated realities might (just might) develop their own artificial intelligences and character types, and set out to conquer virtual (and real) worlds. One of the most original ideas to come by in a long while, but overall impression from this story is marred by an ambitious and "over-the-top" writing.
review: 23-Jul-06 (read in 2006)


Jack Skillingstead
"Life on the Preservation"

© IASFM, Jun 2006
--/ cool time sf story

One of the few survivors of post-apocalyptic world is sent on a mission to destroy Seattle, which is nicely preserved in the past, but can not quite bring herself to do it, tasting sublime pleasures of the Pacific Northwest, San Juan Islands and overall ambience of the "Emerald City". I would totally agree with her, as Seattle area is one of my most favorite places to visit. Joking aside, I thought the story is mediocre; it did not do anything for me.
review: 23-Jul-06 (read in 2006)


Scott William Carter
"The Tiger in the Garden"

© IASFM, Jun 2006
--/ cool sf story

"A constable on a poor, out-of-the-way planet, is expecting a government Agent, an alien with unpleasant appearance and even worse personality. He is there to apprehend a terrorist..." Well, this story left me cold.
review: 23-Jul-06 (read in 2006)


Matthew Johnson
"The Ninth Part of Desire"

© IASFM, Jun 2006
--/ cool sf story

This is "Astounding / Analog" idea-type story, which tells about simulating emotions by chemical and computer means.
review: 23-Jul-06 (read in 2006)


Ian Creasey
"The Edge of the Map"

© IASFM, Jun 2006
--/ cool sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award

In a world overrun with computerized nano-cameras, recording the whole sum of Earth events for the benefit of blogging crowds and news industry, only ONE place has been left out - not covered by the cameras. As you might expect, soon all mysterious and fantasy elements of our world are taking refuge there, and on top of that, the whole spot (called "The Weird") disappears with an act of observation, like a quantum entity governed by "uncertainty principle". I loved this idea - one could make a glorious fantasy adventure out of it; but it gets under-developed and unexciting treatment in this story. It's really too bad. Michael Swanwick should collaborate on this idea with his stylistic flair, and a ghost of Henry Kuttner should supply an exciting plot.
review: 23-Jul-06 (read in 2006)


Robert Reed
"Eight Episodes"

© IASFM, Jun 2006
--/ cool sf story

A curious story, written as a critic's evaluation of little-known TV series, which lasted only eight episodes - but the last episode reveals that the series is a message from an "almost-microscopic" alien spaceship to humankind. There is also some discussion about validity of exploring other worlds, and rarity of intelligent life in the Universe. Overall, this story had a minimal effect on me, which is surprising, considering Robert Reed's standards.
review: 23-Jul-06 (read in 2006)


Rudy Rucker
"Chu and the Nants"

© IASFM, Jun 2006
--/ third place apocalyptic sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award
--/ awesome scale

Profoundly wild story, starting in subdued "trans-real" (read Dick' paranoidal) mode, and growing into one of the most visually mind-blowing stories in years. It even includes a current political commentary (kind of a farce, taking "right-wing" stereotypes to the extreme) - the story swims in a black humour like a sugared plum in a Black Russian cocktail, very stylish and ripe with all kinds of possibilities. Take this: nanobots are disassembling Mars into super- giga- computer (while Earth's dumb government is hoping to retain control over it when it's finished and make it to broadcast giant (orbit-wide) ads across the sky, among other things.) The orbit-sized computer soon stops doing that and transforms into a higher being, hungering for more real-estate, namely Earth. Splendid nano-cataclysm ensues, with haunting images of disintegrating reality - saved by an idiot-savant and an unknown variable of a character. This story could have easily been written by Philip K. Dick himself, I enjoyed it tremendously.
review: 23-Jul-06 (read in 2006)


Beth Bernobich
"A Flight of Numbers Fantastique Strange"

© IASFM, Jun 2006
--/ fourth place time sf novella
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award

Very original novella, with wildly imaginative premise (numbers have a certain characteristics beyond "just mathematics", prime numbers especially approach personality-like complexity and are able to affect the flow of alternative time streams - an idea similar to numerology, but combined with speculation on time/space fabric' properties). An interesting Victorian background, lyrical prose and a deceptively quiet mystery plot add to reader's enjoyment of this stand-out and truly original SF story in recent years.
review: 23-Jul-06 (read in 2006)


Overall strong issue, with emphasis on multi-media and mathematics. Good variety, and of course an unexpected "nutty" tale of Rudy Rucker which (predictably) made my day.

(image credit: AlphaKX,

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Enchanting Victorian Fairy Tale Art

"Then world behind and home ahead..."

Exceptional British Scifi Artwork from the 1950s

Space Pulp Art by Ron Turner and other British artists

Pulp Pleasures: Eando Binder

Great space adventure fiction from the 1930s
"Where Eternity Ends" and other rare gems

Epic Fantasy: the Start of the Journey

Part 2 of our "Best Classic Fantasy" series
incl. works by Henry Kuttner, Tolkien, etc.

Strange Shadows: Best Classic Fantasy

Fantasy "glitches in the matrix",
...lovely baroque magical lands, and more

Classic Cyberpunk SF Novels: Reviews

Neal Stephenson, William Gibson, K. W. Jeter, et al
(awesome must-reads)

10 Possible Sources of "Avatar" in Classic Science Fiction

Going beyond the obvious "Dances with Smurfs"...
(many stories worth reading)

"Steampunk" Anthology: Full Review

some truly crazed stories in there...
(plus artwork by John Coulthart)

"Dune", Plus Often-Neglected
Other Novels by Frank Herbert

"Dune", plus some overlooked gems:
"The Santaroga Barrier" and "The Green Brain"

Universe at Play:
Two Must-Read Novels of the Fantastic

"The Yiddish Policemen's Union" by Michael Chabon...
and David Mitchell's "Cloud Atlas"

Two of the Most Entertaining SF Novels from the 1980s

"Vacuum Flowers" by Michael Swanwick...
and Tim Power's "The Anubis Gates", of course!

"The Body Snatchers" and Other Alien Pods

Fiction by Jack Finney, Vance, Simak and Bloch
mind impostors and emotion imitators

Exploring the Noir and the Grotesque

Jack O'Connell "The Resurrectionist"
and other newest examples of the bizarre

Overpopulation, Sex and Sensibility

Robert Silverberg's "The World Inside"
and other classic sf blasts

H. P. Lovecraft "At the Mountains of Madness"

and other masterpieces of terror
including original illustrations

"Constellations", edited by Peter Crowther

original anthology, 2005
full review: mind-bending stories

The Ultimate Guide to New Writers of SF&F

more than 2,000 writers, 1990-2009
Ratings, awards, web links

The Surreal Office

"The Situation", "The Cookie Monster"
Weird fiction by Jeff VanderMeer and Vernor Vinge

Mind-shattering Novels of Philip K. Dick

"UBIK", "Now Wait for Last Year", etc.

Theodore Sturgeon's "More Than Human"

There’s a problem with this new gestalt being: needs a conscience.

Jack Williamson's "Legion of Space" Series

Classic Space Opera
The ultimate weapon, controlled by a gorgeous woman

Astounding Stories, August 1934

Jack Williamson, Nat Schachner, "Doc" Smith
Epic space opera gems and horror surprises

Rare Pulp SF&F, Issue 3

Leigh Brackett, Fritz Leiber, Vic Phillips
Rediscovered gems of wonder & adventure

William Gibson's Novels

"Pattern Recognition", "Neuromancer"
A Fractured Delight...

Alfred Bester "The Computer Connection"

"Bester was the mountain, all the rest of us..."
Pyrokinetic writing in one neat package

Two Novels by Samuel R. Delany

"Nova" and "Babel-17"
New Wave Milestones, and then some.

Theodore Sturgeon's "The Cosmic Rape"

(and more reviews of his fiction)
Classic SF at its best and most humane

Travel Distant Worlds!

Vintage Space Travel Posters, and more.
Part 3 of Pulp Sf art series...

Alastair Reynolds' Epic Novels

"Chasm City" and "Revelation Space"
And it's only the beginning...

Rare Fantasy Gems by C. L. Moore and Henry Kuttner

Hidden Gems of Pulp Fiction
When two star writers become husband and wife

Grand Old Times... in the Future

Overview of Pulp Art
A Loudly Lurid Universe of Sci-Fi Illustration

Exclusive: Interview with Nancy Kress

From High Fantasy to Hard Science Fiction
A Spectrum of Wonder

Jack Vance

"To Live Forever"
and other Vance extravaganzas

Alastair Reynolds

"Pushing Ice"
Cosmological "noir" chase across space

Charles Stross

"Missile Gap"
Mind-bending Cold War world-building

Hidden Gems of Pulp SF, Part 2

Rare stories from the "Age of Wonder"
incl. David Keller, Horace Gold etc.

Ultra-Rare Serials from "Fantasy Magazine"

"Cosmos" + "Challenge From Beyond"
incredible line-up of writers

Hidden Gems of Pulp SF, Part 1

Neat & Rare Stories
incl. the mad rally story "The Racer"

Astounding Stories, June 1935

Full Issue Review
incl. Gallun, Schachner, Campbell

Astounding Stories, May 1941

Full Issue Review
incl. Heinlein, Asimov, Eric Frank Russell

Horace Gold; P. Schuyler Miller

"Apocalyptic Blockbusters"
"Inflexure" and "Spawn": guilty pleasure

Interview with John C. Wright

Plus his advice to new writers
Adventures in Space & Magic

Frank Belknap Long

"The Horror from the Hills"
Great Lovecraftian Weird Novella

Interview with Jeff VanderMeer

Plus his Recommended Reading List
A Triumph of the Bizarre

Alastair Reynolds, Part 2

More "Galactic North" Stories
A Mixture of Hard Sf, James Bond & Jaws...

Alastair Reynolds Review

"Galactic North"
staring down infinity...

Most Shocking Article

"Holey Fools" by M. Christian
Warning: Gross Subject Matter

Alfred Bester Review

"The Stars My Destination"
"...nail it to the Retro Hugo voting board..."

Larry Niven Review

"Neutron Star"
"better get GP alien ship hull"

Poul Anderson Review

"Ensign Flandry"
"or how to start a sub-genre..."

Thomas M. Disch Review

"The Squirrel Cage"
"...seriously mind-bending stuff..."

Henry Kuttner Review

"Mimsy Were the Borogoves" (The Last Mimzy)
"...great storyline for a pretty average movie..."

Robert A. Heinlein Review

"The Moon is the Harsh Mistress"
" caused a tooth ache, and put my brain on freeze..."

Frank Herbert Review

"Destination: Void"
"...a layered cake of ideas and a scientific extrapolation on a genius level..."

Harlan Ellison Review

"The Abnormals"
"...editors slapped the most outrageous titles on his stories..."

James White Review

"All Judgement Fled"
"...the tension is palpable, soon to grow almost unbearable..."

Grand Adventure Strikes Again

Space Opera Article, by Avi Abrams
Based on Arthur Clarke's "Against the Fall of Night"

William Gibson Review

"Burning Chrome"
"...sheer pyrotechnics and exuberance of style..."

Ace Double: Murray Leinster

"The Pirates of Ersatz /The Mutant Weapon"
"...the characters might as well be cats or hamsters..."

Astounding Stories, May 1935

Pulp SF Magazine Review
with many original illustrations

Also read recent posts:
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The Wonder Timeline: SF&F Restrospective
Space Adventure Article



"SF&F Reading Experience" is part of "Dark Roasted Blend / Thrilling Wonder" family of sites. We try to highlight the most entertaining and rewarding science fiction and fantasy, with emphasis on memorable reader experience, not necessarily general acceptance by the critics. Have fun, and delve into our extensive ratings and reviews!

Most reviews are written by Avi Abrams, unless otherwise noted. Reviews also appear on our unique historical retrospective page Wonder Timeline of Science Fiction. Feel free to submit your own review, if a particular story is not listed here.

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These awards are given in the following categories:
- novel :
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Also, there are our personal STYLE / GENRE SPECIFIC AWARDS. These reflect the story's content and the lasting impression on the reader:

--/ wonder award
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